I know that useability and friendliness are given priority in the features implemented on StackExchange, but after using the new close-as-off-topic flow for the first time I would have to say I'm somewhat underwhelmed.

Why do we not have a simple It's off topic type reason? And why do I have to write half a book chapter as my custom close reason, especially when I can go back and edit the automatically posted comment so that it's way shorter?

This question complaint is prompted by this question here on Meta. It's off topic, plain and simple. We now have a bunch of people wanting to close it, all potentially writing their own custom close reasons, it's just messy suboptimal. Regardless of how nice and friendly you want to be to the user, this particular question shouldn't need an explanation.

Does the off topic flow have to stay this way? Can we allow higher rep users to close as off topic without having to specify a (really long) custom reason, maybe have some canned reasons like we used to?

just to be clear, there are still three canned close reasons, but none of them were applicable to this example. The second one is closest, but does not appear to seek input... is quite different to It's a question, but doesn't belong here in any way, shape, or form.

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  • 6
    When you have to go through more work to close a bad question than the user did to ask it.... Jun 14, 2013 at 0:46
  • @KnightswhosayNi The three canned reasons currently offered are not applicable to the example question.
    – slugster
    Jun 14, 2013 at 0:50
  • @slugster Whoops. Missed that; I support this.
    – user206222
    Jun 14, 2013 at 0:52
  • 2
    I almost asked a similar question about rants and trolling questions. They just need closed without the excess fluff because they simply don't belong. Jun 14, 2013 at 1:00
  • @slugster I think the second one applies to your example.
    – yannis
    Jun 14, 2013 at 1:04
  • 2
    @Yannis I'd be happy if that reason was extended by a few words. Meta and SO in particular frequently receive questions that don't belong anywhere on the network.
    – slugster
    Jun 14, 2013 at 1:14
  • 1
    @psubsee2003 Rants and trolling could be closed as Primarily opinion based.
    – AndrewC
    Jun 14, 2013 at 1:38

2 Answers 2


This is the kind of situation that makes me hesitate about disabling the default off-topic reason for sites that have custom off-topic close reasons defined.

I see the point behind disabling the default - we don't want for everyone to select the default reason because it's the path of least resistance and negate the purpose of having custom, more tailored reasons for common closures. On the other hand, having to type in a comment when a question is obviously off-topic like this is introducing unnecessary friction.

We're definitely monitoring this. Please do vote to close with a custom comment for now and/or otherwise let us/me know that this is a problem with specific examples. I will be paying close attention to how many questions end up closed with a comment along the lines of "What? This is a question about kittens, not programming." and we'll adjust the system from there.

  • If you wanted to enable the default but don't want people to use it too much, you could put it at the bottom of the list.
    – AndrewC
    Jun 14, 2013 at 1:47
  • 3
    @AndrewC That doesn't make a huge difference when the bottom of the list is still in the middle of the dialog. I really want to gather some real data on this and the best way that doesn't involve me sifting through hundreds of closed questions seems to be to just let this play out and have folks type in comments for obviously off-topic closures. This also may also be different on meta vs real sites since MSO tends to attract a special breed of bizarre posts. We have the ability to enable additional custom reasons beyond the default 3 if we need to.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jun 14, 2013 at 1:53
  • Thanks Adam, good to know you're keeping an eye on it.
    – slugster
    Jun 14, 2013 at 8:36

You could solve this with another canned reason:

The question isn't about any of the Stack Exchange family of Q&A sites. See What is meta and how does it work?

This would be what you use if someone asks a question that's sort of related a little bit to something one of the sites looks at, but it's not on topic for Stack Overflow (which would have been caught by the first canned reason).

  • ..and in the meantime, a keypress-saving workaround is to copy the text "This question does not appear to be about Stack Overflow or the Stack Exchange engine that powers the Stack Exchange network." from the first dialogue before clicking Off Topic, then pasting it in the freeform text box.
    – AndrewC
    Jun 14, 2013 at 2:02
  • This might work - While I'm generally concerned that "not" reasons become catch-alls that will often fail to convey what's wrong (MANY OT questions on SO are about programming), I think they could potentially work well for meta-sites.
    – Jaydles
    Jun 14, 2013 at 20:14

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